Baby sign language: my boy is smart

Our little guy is 8 months now. Over the last few weeks, he has begun to enjoy his meals way too much. He sits in his highchair at meal time, bellowing for us to toss him cheerios and scraps of whatever we’re eating.
Last Saturday, we realized that it was time to start teaching him a more civilized way to ask. As soon as he was seated in his highchair I asked him, “Would you like a bite, please?” I emphasized the word please and patted my chest as I said it. Then I repeated the question, patting his chest instead. I gave him a bite.
Over the following days, we repeated the scenario countless times, trying to start before he bellowed out his own request. Sometimes we patted our own chests to demonstrate the sign for please. Sometimes we patted his chest. Sometimes we used his hand to pat his own chest.
By Sunday and Monday, he was bellowing considerably less – only when we were too slow to offer bites.
On Tuesday, he was clapping to ask for food! This guy is smart: the “real” sign for please is really just a clap on the chest, so he was halfway there.
Yesterday (Wednesday) he started touching his chest and then clapping his hands. Now he’s 3/4 of the way there, and rarely bellows for food.
This was time well spent. Our meals are much quieter and more peaceful now.
Besides, he is unspeakably cute and obviously impressed with himself every time he is able to communicate a request to us.


  1. CappuccinoLife says:

    He certainly is cute. 🙂

    When we were little we learned to clap our hands and say “Bitte, bitte” (“please, please” in German) and I was tickled when I was able to teach my kiddos the same thing.

  2. I love signing for kids. We started (waaay too late – with baby #6) signing when my son would lift up my shirt in public because he wanted to nurse. NOT good manners at all!

    So we taught him the sign for milk; thought we were pretty clever, we did. Until someone noticed and said, “Hey, did you learn that from Meet the Fockers?!” After scratching our heads in puzzlement, we found out that that particular trick is used in a movie. Bummer. And we thought we were so smart.

    Abbie is 10 months now, and is very good at “more” (she moved from clapping her hands as an attempt at “more” to now knocking her fists together…closer and closer – she’ll get it!), and is working on please (we’re rather spotty with that one!). We love early communication. It’s so good for the family!

    Now, if she would just obey “No.”.


  3. The Martin's says:

    Very interesting. First of all, I laughed so hard at the comment, where her son signed for help,instead of crying out. Too Cute! Our son is almost 8 months. I know I have 4 older chilren as well, but I have never considered signing. I will be looking into it for good manners and communication in the early months ahead. I would love to hear more.

    Your baby is beautiful and looks so happy.

  4. Wonderful story to show the importance of teaching as training!
    I only knew a few signs when my children where little but I have seen the fruit of a little goes a long way. Now my oldest DD (16) taught herself sign, and was able to help sign during a song service.

  5. Yes! We have used signing with both our kids so far, and plan to again with this one and any future babes! We have found it cuts down so much on the dinnertime screeching, just like your story shows. Plus of course it is teaching them manners as soon as they are able to express it in some way.

    Our favorite signing story is when my son was just over a year, and fell headfirst into his big toybox, where he was stuck, feet dangling above the floor. Poor guy didn’t even cry, just frantically signed ‘help!’ 😉 And yes, I took a picture before I got him out.

  6. a pedagogical moment: o vosso bébé é lindo!

  7. MikeandCharlsie says:

    Kim I have to agree that ASL really does help with communication! We start it almost at birth and it really cuts down on the yelling! You really have a cute little man there!!!!

  8. What a cutie! Oh that more parents would work at teaching their children the love of learning!

  9. Mrs Marcos says:

    That is one cute baby!!!!

  10. Mom2fur says:

    I read somewhere that ASL is the fourth most-spoken language in our country. It’s really smart for parents to help their kids learn it, and the kids have fun with it, too! And who can argue with something that offers a little extra peace and quiet, LOL!
    BTW, your little guy is just adorable! I love his brown eyes and that cute baby “I’m proud of myself” smile!

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